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What do you think will be Ted Kennedy’s legacy?

Asked at The Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd. on August 27, 2009

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Photo of Alfred Horstman

“Fighting for health care, immigration reform … and in the back of my mind, Chappaquiddick.”

Photo of Emily Fredrickson

“I think he will be remembered not so much for what he did in the Senate, but for driving off the bridge in Chappaquiddick.”

Photo of Keith Lake

“His legacy will be his adoption of the Meals on Wheels program.”

Photo of Freda Herrington

“I think it will be a public option for health care.”


Maddy Griffin 8 years, 7 months ago

I,too, hope it will be a public option for health care. This is the one thing he cared about most.

BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago

He will be remembered as the drunken brother of two influential Americans who were both cut down by assassins and that he could never live up to their legacy or legitimacy, and he will be remembered for getting off from killing the girl at Chappaquiddick.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 7 months ago

His attempt to maintain his Senate seat as a fiefdom by lobbying the Mass. legislature to give the governor back the power to appoint his successor. When Romney was governor, Kennedy got the legislature to pass a law requiring a special election. Now that Mass. has the right sort of governor, Kennedy thought that it was okay to take the public out of the process again.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 7 months ago

That Ted couldn't remember the night Mary Jo died, but he remembered a window was open on the beach a year after the incident in the William Kenedy Smith trial.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 7 months ago

Is the Kennedy woman who used to be on VH1 looking for a new gig? The voters in MA would probably put her into the Senate without a second thought.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 7 months ago

He will be remembered for being able to accomplish more in the Senate than as President. He will be remembered for being a strong enough man to not only carry on after the huge losses he suffered, but that he rose to the occasion and became a Father figure not only in the lives of his nieces and nephews, but set a high standard of what it is to be a Father, a brother, a leader, a man, for the entire world.

The Kennedy family have always rocked and always will. What an incredible legacy!

Kirk Larson 8 years, 7 months ago

To quote Bob Dole, "He was the hardest working Senator I ever met."

He genuinely cared about public service while being rich enough that he didn't have to. There's a big difference there between Liberals and conservatives: when cons are rich, they don't care about anyone but themselves.

Matt Warman 8 years, 7 months ago

BigPrune............. you nailed it. Nuff said

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 7 months ago

"Few are those who move on from the bad choices they've made in their own lives, to making other's lives better." Ted was one of those. If you are a woman in collegiate sports, thank him. If you receive Meals on Wheels, thank him. He was one of only 23 who voted against the war in Iraq,thank him. The list goes on and on. Thank you Senator Kennedy for all you have done to make the lives of the "little man" a little better. You are sorely missed.

nixon00 8 years, 7 months ago

Sure he did some great things while in Senate...that's what he was being paid to do. However, he was a drunk who killed someones child when he made the choice to drive off a bridge, and justice was never seen.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 7 months ago

it is way past time to forgive and forget. What does it accomplish when you believe that no matter how much good someone does, it is the bad thing they once did that will always be remembered? It certainly does not encourage those who have paid their debt to society in jail or in prison to get a job and turn their lives around. What happened that night does not matter now. What matters is the immense good that Senator Kennedy accomplished.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 7 months ago

He was also a NIMBY on the question of putting a wind farm in view of his compound.

ksdivakat 8 years, 7 months ago

Chappaquiddick! And I wasnt even born then.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 7 months ago

How rich scam bags get away with crimes the rest of us would do hard time for or at the very least lose our reputation and standing in society.

Deb Engstrom 8 years, 7 months ago

Maybe he did use his wealth to get out of a situation. So what! Mary Jo would not be any less dead if he had gone to prison. To his credit, he went on to do a lot of good things for a lot of people through his diligent work in the senate. He will be very difficult to replace.

Richard Payton 8 years, 7 months ago

His legacy is the Saturday Night Live skit where somebody plays Senator Kennedy as he sits silent on the Monica L. (sexual sandal) committee. Remember Senator Kennedy's nephew that sexual assaulted some female at a party where Senator Kennedy was partying (so say the media).

Flap Doodle 8 years, 7 months ago

"Brasserie I: In December 1985, just before he announced he would run for president in 1988, Kennedy allegedly manhandled a pretty young woman employed as a Brasserie waitress. The woman, Carla Gaviglio, declined to be quoted in this article, but says the following account, a similar version of which first appeared in Penthouse last year, is full and accurate:

It is after midnight and Kennedy and Dodd are just finishing up a long dinner in a private room on the first floor of the restaurant’s annex. They are drunk. Their dates, two very young blondes, leave the table to go to the bathroom. (The dates are drunk too. “They’d always get their girls very, very drunk,” says a former Brasserie waitress.) Betty Loh, who served the foursome, also leaves the room. Raymond Campet, the co-owner of La Brasserie, tells Gaviglio the senators want to see her.

As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and a crystal candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd’s lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room. Kennedy, Dodd and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check.

Eyewitness Betty Loh told me that Kennedy had “three or four” cocktails in his first half hour at the restaurant and wine with dinner. When she walked into the room after Gaviglio had gone in, she says, “what I saw was Senator Kennedy on top of Carla, who was on top of Senator Dodd’s lap, and the tablecloth was sort of slid off the table ‘cause the table was knocked over—not completely, but just on Senator Dodd’s lap a little bit, and of course the glasses and the candlesticks were totally spilled and everything. And right when I walked in, Senator Kelly jumped off…and he leaped up, composed himself and got up. And Carla jumped up and ran out of the room.”" Lots more at:

beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

Conservative, outspoken against alcohol and drugs, long hair, loud guitar, likes to go hunting and really really likes his guns.

Ted Kennedy!? Oh, I thought you said Ted Nugent.

Lacy Mohler 8 years, 6 months ago

Good drinker, bad driver, poor swimmer.

KS 8 years, 6 months ago

Not to worry about any bridge until you get to it! It's going to be okay, Mary Jo.

Tom McCune 8 years, 6 months ago

I remember going to a Halloween costume party after the Chappaquiddick incident. One couple came as Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne. She came in covered in (fake) blood. He came in soaking wet, covered in seaweed, and carrying a car door over his shoulder. I don't know if that should be Teddy's legacy, but it was the all-time best Halloween costume I have ever seen.

jayhawklawrence 8 years, 6 months ago

You can be human and at the same time great.

We loved him, then hated him, then loved him again.

Mixolydian 8 years, 6 months ago

Many thought Leon Klinghoffer invented this drink.

Nope, Ted Kennedy did. Years earlier. 1969 in fact, 2 days prior to the moon landing.

Two shots and a splash.


Too soon?

Flap Doodle 8 years, 6 months ago

"Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy. "On 9-10 May of this year," the May 14 memorandum explained, "Sen. Edward Kennedy's close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow." (Tunney was Kennedy's law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) "The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov." Kennedy's message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. "The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations," the memorandum stated. "These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign."

Mixolydian 8 years, 6 months ago

True story. I was in Moscow during the winter of 86. I was coming out of one of those westerners only stores when I, literally, ran chest to chest into Ted Kennedy coming into the store...the absolute last person I would ever expect to see there. I was so stunned I didn't say a word, he looked at me like I was crazy and walked on by.

I'm still kinda wierded out by it after all these years.

puddleglum 8 years, 6 months ago

i was there in moscow too....I couldn't find a date, so i was looking for a russian sort of thing. didn't work, as most girls there has real bad bone structure. thats why I ended up with another website

laughingatallofu 8 years, 6 months ago

ralphralph (Anonymous) says…

Sloppy drunk, date-killer. <<<<<<<

Can't wait to read what they say about you, ralphralph

Christine Anderson 8 years, 6 months ago

What a lot of you have already said. Oh hell, it's fun to repeat. Wine, women, more wine, more women, a song here and there, fat drunken pig, sexual harrassment artist, cover-up artist. Oink, oink, belch, pay-off, pay-off, JFK and RFK wannabe. Poster boy for how to use your family name and money to get away with murder. Ok, just to be fair, I have heard a lot of people in my parent's generation say all the Kennedy men were accomplished cheaters, so I guess he did match his brothers in that aspect, eh?

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